Japan’s Osaka Dominates Brady To Win Australian Open

Japan’s Naomi Osaka holds the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup trophy during a victory lap following her win over Jennifer Brady of the US in their women’s singles final match on day thirteen of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 20, 2021. David Gray / AFP

 

Japan’s Naomi Osaka dismissed Jennifer Brady in straight sets to win the Australian Open and underline her growing hold on women’s tennis on Saturday.

Osaka edged a tight first set but controlled the second to win 6-4, 6-3 in 77 minutes in front of 7,381 fans at Rod Laver Arena.

Third seed Osaka preserves her 100 percent record in Grand Slam finals after winning the 2018 and 2020 US Opens and the 2019 title in Melbourne.

The reigning US Open champion, who beat her idol, Serena Williams, in the Melbourne semi-finals, has now won two of the last three Grand Slams as her status and reputation soars.

“We played in the semis of the US Open a couple of months ago and I told everyone that you’re going to be a problem,” Osaka told Brady at the trophy presentation.

“And I was right. It’s really incredible to me to see your growth over the past few months, it’s really cool for me to see.”

Osaka, 23, is only the third player after Monica Seles and Roger Federer to win their first four major finals, and will now rise to second in the world rankings.

She saved two match points in the fourth round against Garbine Muguruza and swept past Williams in straight sets in the semis.

On Saturday, Osaka wore down fellow big-hitter Brady, and then lifted her racquet above her head in celebration of her win as the crowd roared.

After sealing back-to-back Slam titles twice, Osaka has won half the majors she’s contested since beating Williams to win her first in 2018.

“Thank you for coming and watching, it feels really incredible for me,” she told the crowd, which was capped at half-capacity over coronavirus concerns.

“I didn’t play my last Grand Slam with fans so just to have this energy really means a lot.”

US Open rematch

The Japanese survived a seesaw start to gain control, reeling off six straight games en route to the title.

It was a rematch of last year’s epic US Open semi-final, described by some as the best match of 2020, but Osaka triumphed far more comfortably on this occasion.

Before the match, Osaka had pinpointed her return as the key, but she was helped out by a shaky Brady who lost her serve in the fourth game after two double faults.

But Brady, the 22nd seed, hit back with a break and she continued to pile pressure on Osaka’s serve.

A brilliant lob winner, showcasing her trademark athleticism, gave a pumped-up Brady a break point in the ninth game, but Osaka held on.

Brady then played a sloppy game on serve to hand over the set to Osaka, who had a 20-0 record at Melbourne Park when winning the first set.

Osaka gained a stranglehold with an early break in the second set and fired down an ace to skip out to a 3-0 lead, followed by a roar of “C’mon!”.

Brady attempted a late rally, but a calm Osaka was not to be denied.

Brady’s resilient run ended after serving 14 days’ hard quarantine before the tournament, unlike other players who were allowed out of their hotel rooms to train.

Despite the defeat, Brady will rise to a career-high 13th in the WTA rankings.

Eastern Japan Hit By Massive Earthquake

Damaged buildings are seen in Fukushima on February 13, 2021 after a strong 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck late off the eastern coast of Japan but no tsunami warning was issued, Japanese authorities said. JIJI PRESS / AFP
Damaged buildings are seen in Fukushima on February 13, 2021 after a strong 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck late off the eastern coast of Japan but no tsunami warning was issued, Japanese authorities said. JIJI PRESS / AFP

 

A strong 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck off Japan’s east coast late Saturday, rattling the region hit by the powerful 2011 quake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown just weeks before the disaster’s 10th anniversary.

The quake produced powerful shaking along parts of Japan’s eastern coast, and was felt strongly in Tokyo, but triggered no tsunami alert.

Kyodo news agency reported at least 30 people injured, but gave no further details.

There were no immediate reports of significant damage, though local news broadcast images of a landslide on a highway.

Japan’s meteorological agency said the quake hit at 11:08 pm (1408 GMT) at a depth of 60 kilometres (37 miles) in the Pacific off Fukushima — near the epicentre of the 2011 killer quake which triggered a towering tsunami and killed more than 18,000 people.

The agency initially reported the strength of the quake as 7.1, but later revised the figure upwards. It said the quake was considered an aftershock of the massive 2011 temblor.

Aftershocks continued to rattle the region in the hours afterwards and officials cautioned local residents to be vigilant. A handful of people were reported to have sought shelter at evacuation centres.

“We are working quickly to collect information but we still have no details to announce. There were some unconfirmed reports about landslides but we are still checking,” Mikihiro Meguro, an official from the Fukushima prefectural government, told AFP.

Around 950,000 homes lost power throughout the affected region, but no abnormalities were reported at the Fukushima nuclear plant, which melted down in the wake of the 2011 tsunami.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was called to his office, and broadcaster NHK said the government would set up a special liaison office to coordinate with affected regions.

‘All messed up’

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato addressed reporters after midnight and said evaluations were under way.

“As far as damage, casualties and structural damage are being assessed,” he said, adding that sections of the bullet train had been suspended due to power outages.

“Surveys are being done at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant,” he said.

“We have received reports that Onagawa nuclear plant and Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant are not showing any abnormality,” he added.

Images posted online showed broken glass at a shop and items spilled off the shelves at a supermarket.

Renowned author Yu Miri, who lives in Fukushima’s Minamisoma city, tweeted a photo of her home, showing books, potted plants and other belongings strewn across the floor.

“My house in Odaka, Minamisoma city is all messed up,” she wrote.

“I hear the ground rumbling. And another quake,” she tweeted about an aftershock.

Aerial footage broadcast by NHK showed a hillside that collapsed onto a highway in Fukushima region, severing the road. It was not immediately clear if anyone was hurt.

The US Geological Survey registered the quake at a revised magnitude of 7.1 with a depth of 51 kilometers.

Japan sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.

The country is regularly hit by quakes, and has strict construction regulations intended to ensure buildings can withstand strong tremors.

In September 2018, a powerful 6.6-magnitude quake rocked Hokkaido, triggering landslides, collapsing houses and killing more than 40.

AFP

Japan To Start COVID-19 Vaccines Despite Syringe Shortage

File photo: A nurse prepares to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Guy’s Hospital in London, on December 8, 2020. Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP

 

Japan will start coronavirus vaccinations next week, its prime minister said Wednesday, but it is scrambling to secure suitable syringes so doses won’t go to waste.

The country has reached deals with three major drug firms to buy enough vaccine doses for its population of 126 million.

But it has not yet announced a detailed roll-out plan for the jabs, less than six months before the pandemic-postponed Olympics begin.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is likely to become the first jab approved for use in Japan in the coming days, following domestic clinical trials required by the country’s health authorities.

“When we have confirmed the vaccine’s efficacy and safety, we will start vaccination by the middle of next week,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said.

Japan is trying to secure enough special syringes that can extract the full six doses from each vial of Pfizer vaccine.

More commonly used syringes can only draw five doses — meaning the last one needs to be discarded.

The syringe problem could force the country to forgo enough Pfizer vaccine doses for up to 12 million people, local media estimated.

“At first, we will use the syringes that can draw six doses, but as we vaccinate many people, these will become scarce,” Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said on Tuesday.

READ ALSO: Prince Charles Receives First Dose Of COVID-19 Vaccine

“We are working hard to secure the syringes. We are asking medical equipment manufacturers to increase their production,” he told parliament.

Around 10,000 medical workers will be the first people vaccinated in Japan, with officials hoping to expand the rollout to the elderly from April.

Toshio Nakagawa, head of the Japan Medical Association, said that a lack of information about the vaccine campaign is causing confusion among medical workers.

But he said at a Wednesday press conference that medics are committed to the vaccination programme, which he called “the most enormous undertaking, at a scale we have never experienced before”.

The jabs “will let us be on the offensive, rather than just on defence”, he added.

Japan Says EU Export Curbs Delaying Its COVID-19 Vaccination Plan

A Chinese woman from Beijing, who is the first vaccine recipient to be inoculated with the monovalent Gardasil 9 human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine against cervical cancer, receives the vaccination at Boao Super Hospital (BSH) in Boao, Qionghai city, south China's Hainan province, 30 May 2018. Stringer / Imaginechina
A Chinese woman from Beijing, who is the first vaccine recipient to be inoculated with the monovalent Gardasil 9 human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine against cervical cancer, receives the vaccination at Boao Super Hospital (BSH) in Boao, Qionghai city, south China’s Hainan province, 30 May 2018. Stringer / Imaginechina

 

EU export rules are preventing Japan from finalising its coronavirus vaccination plan, a Tokyo minister said Tuesday, after the bloc introduced a controversial new mechanism for the shipment of jabs made inside its borders.

With less than six months until the pandemic-postponed Tokyo Olympics, Japan has yet to set out when it will vaccinate its population of 126 million people, although it hopes to give the first doses later in February.

The European Union, which is facing criticism of its own sluggish Covid-19 vaccine rollout, on Friday brought in a new rule requiring drug-makers to seek approval before exporting vaccines to non-EU countries.

“Because of that, we have not been able to finalise our supply schedule,” said Taro Kono, the minister in charge of Japan’s vaccine programme.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Records Lowest New COVID-19 Cases Since December

Japan has reached deals with Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca to buy enough vaccine doses for its population.

But health authorities want to confirm the vaccines’ safety through domestic clinical trials before giving any of them a green light.

The jab from Pfizer — which, along with AstraZeneca has factories in the EU — will likely be the first approved.

Kono, the outspoken minister for regulatory reform, also called for international measures to prevent so-called “vaccine nationalism” impacting on global health.

Delays have dogged both the procurement and rollout of vaccines in the EU, which has been embroiled in a furious dispute with AstraZeneca.

The bloc accuses AstraZeneca of breaching its contract by delaying deliveries to EU governments while maintaining those under a deal it signed earlier with the United Kingdom.

On Friday, the European Commission launched a scheme to monitor and in some cases bar exports of vaccines produced in EU plants — an emergency measure that has been criticised by the World Health Organization.

Kono said he understood the EU’s predicament, but stressed that the export rules had come in after vaccines became available, and had “started to affect supplies”.

“We realise that the EU has made initial investments and has not been able to secure vaccines that it needs,” Kono said.

“My honest feeling is that I hope they would not do anything to impact a supply schedule that was already decided,” he said.

Osaka Becomes Part Owner Of US Women’s Pro Soccer Club

(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 27, 2020 Naomi Osaka of Japan returns a shot to Elise Mertens of Belgium during the Western & Southern Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by MATTHEW STOCKMAN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

 

Three-time Grand Slam tennis champion Naomi Osaka of Japan has become an investor in the North Carolina Courage of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), the American squad announced Thursday.

Osaka, the reigning US Open champion, was introduced in a video showing highlights of her tennis career and the team’s history, which includes 2018 and 2019 league titles, under the motto: “Courage Unites Us.”

“The women who have invested in me growing up made me who I am today and I cannot think of where my life would be without them,” Osaka said.

“My investment in the North Carolina Courage is far beyond just being a team owner. It’s an investment in amazing women who are role models and leaders in their fields and inspirations to all young female athletes.

“I also admire everything the Courage does for diversity and equality in the community, which I greatly look forward to supporting and driving forward.”

Osaka, 23, was named by Forbes magazine as the world’s highest paid female athlete in 2020.

READ ALSO: First Cases Of S. Africa COVID-19 Variant Detected In US

The Courage said it plans to tap into Osaka’s passion for fashion by bringing the new part-owner into design decisions for 2021.

“I am thrilled to welcome Naomi as an owner of the North Carolina Courage,” said club chairman Steve Malik, who purchased the Western New York Flash in 2017 and moved it to the Raleigh area.

“Naomi embodies the values we have been striving to cultivate at our club and she brings an invaluable viewpoint on topics beyond sports. I cannot think of anyone better to help us as we continue to make a difference in our community and inspire the next generation of women.”

Osaka, whose Grand Slam victories include the 2018 and 2020 US Opens and 2019 Australian Opens, was the first Asian player to be ranked as world number one. She also inspired with social activism last year in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Naomi is the perfect fit as an owner because her values sync so well with our club,” Courage president Curt Johnson said. “A team with an exemplary and trailblazing roster of world-class professional athletes supported by a globally influential icon is a seminal moment for our sport and the Courage organization.”

Osaka is not the first celebrity owner in the NWSL, the third and most successful attempt to launch a top-level US female football league.

Angel City FC in Los Angeles, a 2022 NWSL expansion club, has tennis star Serena Williams, actresses Eva Longoria, Natalie Portman, Jennifer Garner and Jessica Chastain and retired football star Mia Hamm in its ownership group.

Japan Denies Cancelling Olympics

The Olympic Rings are pictured in front of the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne on March 21, 2020, as doubts increase over whether Tokyo can safely host the summer Games amid the spread of the COVID-19. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP.

 

Japan dismissed a report claiming officials see cancelling the Tokyo Olympics as inevitable on Friday, as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he was “determined” to hold the Games.

Deputy government spokesman Manabu Sakai there was “no truth” to the report in The Times, which quoted an unnamed ruling coalition source as saying “the consensus is that it’s too difficult” to hold the Games.

It is the latest article to cast doubt on the Games, which were postponed over the coronavirus last year but have been hit by a surge in cases and plunging public support.

“I am determined to realise a safe and secure Tokyo Games as proof that mankind will have overcome the virus,” Suga insisted on Friday.

Games organisers also said they were “fully focused on hosting the Games this summer”.

READ ALSO: Japanese Minister Concedes ‘Anything Can Happen’ With Tokyo Olympics

But Sakai said a decision on hosting the Games was looming for Japan, a statement that appeared to deviate from the government’s stated position.

“At some point in time, we will naturally make a decision as to whether to actually hold it,” he said.

“Until then the Japanese government will do what it needs to do and make progress and prepare for it.”

Concerns have risen as Japan battles a third wave of virus infections, with polls showing around 80 percent of Japanese oppose hosting the event this year.

But International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said there was “no reason whatsoever” for them not to go ahead on July 23 as scheduled.

“This is why there is no plan B,” he told Japan’s Kyodo news agency.

‘The Tokyo Games are on’

The IOC took the unprecedented decision to postpone the Games last March after Australia and Canada said they would not be sending teams to Tokyo as the pandemic worsened.

On Friday, Australian Olympic Committee CEO Matt Carroll ruled out another withdrawal, calling reports of the Games’ cancellation “unfounded rumour”.

“The Tokyo Games are on,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“The flame will be lit on the 23rd of July 2021. This has just been reconfirmed again by the Japanese prime minister this afternoon in parliament in Tokyo.

“It will be a very different Games, simpler, with a focus on the athletes and their competitions.”

Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto told AFP this week that the organising committee is “unwavering” on holding the event this year, but couldn’t rule out staging it without spectators.

But domestically there is rising doubt, with opposition lawmakers in parliament on Thursday calling for the Games to be postponed or cancelled.

And on Friday, the Tokyo Medical Association called for the event to be held behind closed doors.

“They must give up the idea of having the festivity of the century by inviting people from various countries,” its chairman Haruo Ozaki told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

“The feasibility of holding it with no spectators should be considered.

 

AFP

Tokyo Olympics: Japanese Minister Concedes ‘Anything Can Happen’

The Olympic Rings are pictured in front of the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne on March 21, 2020, as doubts increase over whether Tokyo can safely host the summer Games amid the spread of the COVID-19. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP.

 

A Japanese cabinet minister admitted Friday that “anything can happen” with the coronavirus-postponed Tokyo Olympics, becoming the first senior official to concede uncertainty about the Games as Japan and other countries battle a surge in cases.

Taro Kono, minister for administrative and regulatory reform, did not rule out the possibility of the Olympics being cancelled, with greater Tokyo and other regions currently under a state of emergency until at least February 7.

READ ALSO: Salah, Mane Also Guilty Of Diving, Clattenburg Slams Klopp

He is the first cabinet minister to deviate from Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s insistence that Japan is on track to hold a “safe and secure” Games, despite a state of emergency being expanded this week to cover a total of 11 regions, including Osaka and Kyoto.

“Given the coronavirus situation, anything can happen,” Kono, a high-profile former foreign and defence minister, told a press briefing.

“The organising committee and the IOC must of course be thinking about back-up plans. The government is firmly preparing for the Olympics and Paralympics.”

Public support for the Olympics has plummeted in Japan, with a recent poll finding that more than 80 percent of respondents think the Games should be cancelled or postponed again.

Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori said in a speech Tuesday that another postponement was “absolutely impossible”, according to local media.

 

Japanese actress Satomi Ishihara waves while holding an Olympic torch during a rehearsal of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics torch relay in Tokyo on February 15, 2020. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP
Japanese actress Satomi Ishihara waves while holding an Olympic torch during a rehearsal of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics torch relay in Tokyo on February 15, 2020. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

Mori also said Japan will decide in the coming months whether to allow foreign fans to enter for the Games, saying: “We will have to make a very difficult decision from February to March.”

– ‘First line of defence’ –
Suga has said Japan is committed to hosting the Games and believes the public mood will change when the country begins its vaccination programme, set for late February.

Local media quoted Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto saying Friday that Japan is suspending an exemption that allows foreign athletes to enter the country to train while the country’s state of emergency is in place.

Japanese athletes will still be able to re-enter Japan, but they will no longer be allowed to skip the 14-day quarantine period.

“We want to prioritise saving lives,” Hashimoto was quoted as saying. “So as a preventative measure to eliminate risk, we want to strengthen our first line of defence a level.

“We will take the infection situation at home and abroad into account and react accordingly,” she added.

The ban on non-resident foreign athletes is also likely to affect baseball and J-League football teams, who are preparing to begin their seasons.

On Thursday, Japan’s Top League rugby put its season on hold just two days before it was due to begin, after a rash of players from several clubs tested positive for the virus.

The Tokyo 2020 organising committee insisted Friday that the latest anti-virus measures would help rather than hinder preparations.

“We expect that the series of measures being implemented by the government of Japan, the Tokyo metropolitan government and other prefectural authorities will help improve the situation,” it said in a statement.

“We hope that daily life can return to normal as soon as possible, and we will continue to work closely with all related parties in our preparations for holding safe and secure Games this summer.”

AFP

UK Helps Raise $1 Billion In Global Vaccine Donations

An illustration picture shows vials with Covid-19 Vaccine stickers attached and syringes, with the logo of the University of Oxford and its partner British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, on November 17, 2020. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP
An illustration picture shows vials with Covid-19 Vaccine stickers attached and syringes, with the logo of the University of Oxford and its partner British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, on November 17, 2020. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP


Britain said on Sunday it has helped raise $1 billion (818 million euros) from global donors towards the drive to help “vulnerable countries” access coronavirus vaccines, by match-funding contributions.

The UK said, in addition, it has committed £548 million to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), after matching with £1 every $4 pledged by other donors.

Canada, Japan and Germany are among the countries to make contributions that it matched, helping the AMC raise more than $1.7 billion in total so far.

The fund will allow for the distribution of one billion Covid-19 vaccine doses to 92 developing countries this year, according to Britain’s Foreign Office.

“We’ll only be safe from this virus, when we’re all safe — which is why we’re focused on a global solution to a global problem,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement.

The announcement came as Britain marks the 75th anniversary of the first meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in London, hosting UN Secretary-General António Guterres for a so-called virtual visit starting Sunday.

Guterres will on Monday meet Raab and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as well as Alok Sharma, who was this week designated full-time president of the UN’s next major climate summit, COP26, in November.

Sharma had previously done the role part-time alongside his UK government job of secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, which he left Friday.

Ahead of the virtual visit, Guterres said he was honoured to “renew our cause of overcoming global challenges together, and celebrate a country that was instrumental in creating the United Nations”.

Also on Monday, Guterres and global leaders will try to reignite international environmental diplomacy with a biodiversity summit to launch a critical year for efforts to stem the devastating effects of global warming and species loss.

The One Planet Summit, a largely virtual event hosted by France in partnership with the United Nations and the World Bank, will include French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Union chief Ursula Von der Leyen.

COVID-19: Japan To Halt All New Entry Of Foreign Nationals From Next Week

Police officers wearing face masks patrol at the Kabukicho entertainment district in Tokyo on Christmas day on December 25, 2020. PHOTO: STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP

 

Japan will halt all new non-resident foreign arrivals coming from overseas from Monday until late January, Tokyo said Saturday, as the country reported its first cases of a new strain of the coronavirus.

Japan currently restricts entry for foreigners from most countries over fears of the virus, requiring all visitors to undergo mandatory quarantine upon arrival.

Tokyo now plans to strengthen those requirements: Japanese travellers and foreign residents from countries where the new coronavirus strain has been reported must take tests within 72 hours ahead of their departure for the country and again upon arrival at Japanese airports.

It will also strengthen quarantine requirements on all travellers returning to Japan.

READ ALSO: New COVID-19 Strain Found In Nigeria Not UK Variant – Expert

Citing the Japanese government, the Jiji Press and Kyodo agencies said the move was part of efforts to stave off the spread of a new Covid-19 variant, which is believed to be up to 70 percent more infectious.

Foreign visitors with visas will be allowed to enter, Kyodo said, with the exception of those who had visited the UK or South Africa — two of the countries where the strain has been detected — within two weeks of applying for their entry permit.

Japan’s health ministry announced Friday that five people — all of whom had come from Britain — had been found to be infected with the new coronavirus strain.

Tokyo reported a record 949 new daily cases on Saturday, with the figure for Japan as a whole recently topping 3,000 per day.

AFP

Japan Man Probed Over Insults Tied To Netflix Star’s Suicide

Hana Kimura, a Japanese pro wrestler and reality show star died at the age of 22.

 

Japanese police said Thursday they have referred a man to prosecutors over online abuse he directed at Hana Kimura, a reality television star who took her own life earlier this year.

Tokyo Metropolitan Police referred the suspect in his 20s to prosecutors for further investigation after the May death of Kimura, a cast member on Netflix’s internationally popular “Terrace House”.

The man has not been arrested and his identity will not be disclosed until prosecutors decide whether to indict him on charges of public insult, a police spokesman told AFP.

“The suspect… in May posted messages on a social media account of the victim, including ‘You have such an awful personality. Is your life worth living?’ and ‘Hey, hey. When will you die?'” the spokesman said.

He “posted these insults for many random individuals to view and therefore he publicly insulted” Kimura, the spokesman added.

Kimura, a confident pink-haired professional wrestler, was a fan favourite on “Terrace House”, in which six young people share a home while looking for love.

But she was targeted by a torrent of abuse online, reportedly including comments such as “everyone will be happy if you’re gone”.

The television show was cancelled after Kimura’s death, which also prompted Japanese ministers and lawmakers to do more to tackle cyberbullying.

Kimura’s suicide made international headlines and brought renewed social attention to the problem of cyberbullying in Japan and other countries.

In South Korea, for example, the deaths of K-pop stars have prompted calls for strong punishment for abusive online comments.

And a huge online campaign against cyberbullying, using the hashtag #BeKind, took off after the suicide in February of Caroline Flack, who hosted British reality show “Love Island”.

Sony To Buy US Anime Giant Crunchyroll For $1.17 Bn

A man walks past the logo of Japan’s Sony displayed at the company’s showroom in Tokyo. Photo: AFP / Kazuhiro Nogi

 

Japan’s Sony said Thursday it has agreed to buy US anime streaming giant Crunchyroll, which has more than three million paying subscribers, in a deal worth $1.17 billion.

By purchasing the anime, games and manga distributor from AT&T, Sony’s entertainment division is hoping to strengthen its position in the global video streaming market and compete with the likes of Netflix and Hulu, which also offer anime titles.

Crunchyroll, founded in 2006, is the world’s largest online library of Japanese animation.

Tony Vinciquerra, CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, said the firm had already developed “a deep understanding of this global artform” through its own anime streaming service Funimation, which it will combine with Crunchyroll.

“Together with Crunchyroll, we will create the best possible experience for fans and greater opportunity for creators, producers and publishers in Japan and elsewhere,” he said.

“We look forward to continuing to leverage the power of creativity and technology to succeed in this rapidly growing segment of entertainment.”

Sony has recently seen massive success in Japan with the popular “Demon Slayer” anime series made by its Aniplex studio.

A film based on the series has been a huge hit during the pandemic, becoming Japan’s second-highest-grossing film of all time and taking 27.5 billion yen ($265 million) at the box office.

Japan To Give Free COVID-19 Vaccine To Residents

In this file photo taken on August 13, 2020, a lab technician sorts blood samples for a COVID-19 vaccination study at the Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP)

 

Japan will give free coronavirus vaccines to all of its residents under a bill passed Wednesday, as the nation battles record numbers of daily cases.

The bill, which says the government will cover all vaccine costs for Japan’s 126 million residents, was approved by the upper house of parliament, having cleared the powerful lower house.

The country has secured Covid-19 vaccines for 60 million people from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, and for a further 25 million people from biotech firm Moderna.

READ ALSO: UK Approves Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine For Rollout From ‘Next Week’

It has also confirmed it will receive 120 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.

Pfizer and Moderna are already seeking emergency-use approval in the United States and Europe, after clinical tests showed their jabs were effective.

The bill’s passage comes two weeks after Japan’s prime minister said the country was on “maximum alert” over the virus, and as medics warn hospitals are on the brink of collapse.

Japan has seen a comparatively small Covid-19 outbreak overall, with around 2,100 deaths and 150,000 cases, and has not imposed the strict lockdowns seen elsewhere.

But it is now facing a third wave of the disease, reporting record numbers of daily infections nationwide in recent weeks.

Tokyo’s governor has urged residents to avoid non-essential outings and asked businesses serving alcohol to shut early, although there is no enforcement mechanism for these recommendations.

The national government has also decided to allow individual regions to opt out of a controversial domestic tourism campaign.

AFP